Why yes, I am rather behind the times on this game, thanks for asking! I realize that Assassin’s Creed 3 was released months ago, and all those legitimate publications have already publishes their reviews. But the point remains, Assassin’s Creed 3 has been my recent gaming vice, and having just finished it last night, I would be remiss if I didn’t spend some time discussing it. As such, I’ve felt compelled to provide a review.
Assassin’s Creed 3, conversely the fifth installment of the acclaimed series is brought to you by Ubisoft, also known as the target of my past ranting, but all that is behind me. I played a copy of this for PC, and though I know that doesn’t match the typical experience, the pieces are all still there for me to dissect. So let’s get right into it!
Assassin’s Creed 3 has us rejoin protagonist and plot-framing-device de jour, Desmond Miles, as he digs through the rubble of the First Civilization, attempting to save the world from a catastrophic solar event that wiped out the First Civilization thousands of years before. Joining him are his band of support characters, made up of the technologically-savvy girl, the snarky British guy and the overbearing Dad stereotypes respectively. Overall though, they are well characterized enough to provide a welcome bit of flavour to Desmond’s story.
|Now where did I pahk ma cah?|
In order to find the final piece of the fetch-quest, Desmond must now relieve the memories of another roof-jumping, hidden blade wielding ancestor, Connor Kenway. Connor is the son of a British aristocrat(sort of), and a Native American woman, having been raised amongst the natives until a series of tragic events launches him on his future roof-jumping career path. Taking place in War of Independence-era America, the cities of New York and Boston are less architecturally varied and impressive than the previous counterparts such as Venice, Rome or Constantinople, but they’re still large, open and provide plenty of opportunities for free-running goodness.
To be honest, I’m not sure I miss the five minute climbs to the top of absurdly tall buildings, either.
Mechanically, the game is better than ever. The free-running and climbing continues to seem smoother and more fluid, and the addition of a ‘safety’ feature will result in less smashed controllers, minimizing the case of hurtling off into space because your cursor was two degrees to the right of where you intended. The combat itself is vastly improved, coming across as far more active and visceral than before. You’ll find yourself spending less time waiting to counter, and pulling off a series of kills is both satisfying and highly engaging. As with most Assassin’s Creed games, I found myself picking fights with groups of guards, just so I could have fun with the combat.
But it wouldn’t be an Assassin’s Creed title these days without some alarmingly pointless features. This iteration takes the form of a buying/crafting/trading industry that takes place around your homestead. Buy items from people around your community, craft them in to other items, and then send them along trade routes for a profit. All well and good, except the only thing you can spend large amounts of money on is upgrades for your ship, to make it more effective in naval battles. Okay, with you so far. But the only thing you can do with your ship is free up trade routes….to make more money. It’s a classic 30 goto 10 situation, finding yourself right back where you started as if you had never done them at all.
That being said, the naval battles are engaging and a welcome change of pace for the game. I did every naval mission anyway, even if I didn’t ship one item by sea, so it isn’t all for naught.
It is a fortunate occurrence that the game is so mechanically tight, because it manages to distract you from the fact that the story is a bit of a mess. I only realized about halfway through that I had little connection with the main character, and had trouble getting on board with his actions. Connor’s motivations and loyalties seem to vary from scene to scene, and he never seems to have a consistent thread that holds it all together. Sometimes he’s out for revenge, other he’s working through a hit list because an old guy told him to, sometimes he wants to fight for the freedom of the American people, while other times he wants to protect his tribe. But always it will be whatever motivation the plot demands. Where Ezio seemed to have forethought and planning, Connor seems to stumble about, having his actions dictated by others.
|The regulars are coming!|
The reliance on American patriotism does go a little far sometimes as well. Most every mission will find you running into a famous American figure doing the famous action that they’re famous for. This also takes the form of shoehorning Connor into the most iconic events of the War of Independence. He witnesses the signing of the Declaration of Independence, joins the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and participates in the Boston Tea Party(because he wants to hurt an antagonists finances….I think). It seems arbitrary and a little overdone, but it’s ultimately harmless.
All of that being said, the story does pick up significantly in the second half, and finds itself far more grounded in legitimate motivation. Hopefully the mechanics will be enough to distract you until then.
Unfortunately, the biggest sticking point for me is going to be the ending. Without giving anything away here(and I do plan on talking about this in detail later), there are two types of cliffhangers. One leaves you satisfied with your standpoint and anxious about what is going to happen next. The other leaves you throwing your hands up, wondering what you’ve been doing all this time. And unfortunately, I found Assassin’s Creed 3 to be firmly in the latter.
For all its faults, however, Assassins Creed 3 is a truly engaging and fun experience. If you are willing to look past some stumbling points in the story, you will find a mechanically solid game that will draw you in for hours.
Title: Assassin’s Creed 3
Final Score: 7.5/10